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Forum LockedWhat made the ancient river "civilizations".

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    Posted: 23-May-2009 at 07:41
Most of the famous ancient civilizations flourished along banks of great rivers. Of course there is extraordinary fertile lands around many rivers, and the population density could be extremely high there compared to "averages".Still I cannot help suspecting there is more to rivers, and were even more so in the past. A river (and some lakes) may be extraordinary beneficial for human mobility and communication, especially in ages were walking were the alternative! When humans started to move by other means than their two legs it may have been on rivers, were even the most primitive "boat" could make a great diference, making the river a natural "highway" for millenia - even perhaps long before agericultural civilizations?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote whalebreath Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2009 at 07:12
Trade
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2009 at 08:36
Originally posted by whalebreath whalebreath wrote:

Trade
plus:Triobute, taxes, transtribal tyrranies!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2009 at 08:39
Originally posted by whalebreath whalebreath wrote:

Trade
 plus: tribute, taxes, transtribal tyrants, and larger territories for transportation.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2009 at 13:29
Well, maybe, but there were rivers all over the place. Rivers of course offer many benefits to those who live along their banks (and were probably preferred sites far back into the Paleolithic), but it took more than good transportation routes to cause an early civilization in the late Neolithic or early Copper Age. It was only in the ones that had floodplains where we see these early urban civilizations popping up. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2009 at 14:47
There are several civilizations that didn't appear along rivers. The Mayans made it in the jungle, extracting underground water; the Aztecs made it in a lake; the Incas worked in the mountains of the Andes.
I bet the theory of the rivers explain many cases in Eurasia, like Mesopotamia, China, Egypt, and even France, but I should bet that rivers is the only way to go.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2009 at 17:16
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

There are several civilizations that didn't appear along rivers. The Mayans made it in the jungle, extracting underground water; the Aztecs made it in a lake; the Incas worked in the mountains of the Andes.
I bet the theory of the rivers explain many cases in Eurasia, like Mesopotamia, China, Egypt, and even France, but I should bet that rivers is the only way to go.
Perhaps this difference meant that The Mesoamericans and Southamericans were much les "connected" (relatively much more isolated) meaning less transfer of technologies, ideas and "goods" over distance. All this in turn making some changes and developments slower. After all they were remarkably quikcly overrun by the spaniards, and seems to have lacked some "old world" inventions.(J.Diamond have more elaborated explanations for the differences, but why not add some?)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2009 at 17:39
Well, the "Old World" also lacked some New World's inventions. For instance platinum, rubber and the number zero were discovered in the Americas before the New World had a clue. Besides, while the Old World, from Iberia to China, suffered systematically from hunger, the Native Americans civilizations didn't have that problem at all, particularly the Inca empire.
 
The easy with which Europeans took the Aztec and Inca empires is just the impresion people that haven't read the chronicles have. These people only repeat what the pop media spread like parrots. The Aztec population of Tenochtitlan surrender after a long struggle and a vast epidemy that took a good percentage of the Aztec population. Besides, Spaniards had the help of allied tribes armies that fought for them and that were at least 20 times more numerous than the 500 spaniards of the expedition.
With respect to the Incas, you should realize they were in a civil war when the Spaniards arrived, and Atahualpa was hated by at least half the population, because he killed Huascar and many of the legitimate Inca royalty.
 
Yes, historical matters look very simple if one acquire them reading Disneyland Confused
 
With respect to slower development, that's just an urban myth. What happens is that most people don't have a clue about American cultures of ancient times. Who knows about the conquest of Tupac Yupanqui? Who knows about the great engineering works of Tezahualcoyotl? (Saint patron of the Mexican engineers)


Edited by pinguin - 24-May-2009 at 18:11
"He who attempts to count the stars, not even knowing how to count the knots of the 'quipus'(counting string), ought to be held in derision."

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2009 at 20:46
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Well, the "Old World" also lacked some New World's inventions. For instance platinum, rubber and the number zero were discovered in the Americas before the New World had a clue.
 It would have been strange if they did not have anything at all in advance.
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

 Besides, while the Old World, from Iberia to China, suffered systematically from hunger, the Native Americans civilizations didn't have that problem at all, particularly the Inca empire.
May I ask how You can be so sure they never starved? As far as I know the Incas did not have "writing", though they had the quipus. So we have the archaeological record, but without large holes? I am not so sure archaeologists are the persons who normally find evidence of starvation or epidemics. Probably written records tell much more, so it may be we just do not know about the hunger in the americas?
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

The easy with which Europeans took the Aztec and Inca empires is just the impresion people that haven't read the chronicles have. These people only repeat what the pop media spread like parrots. The Aztec population of Tenochtitlan surrender after a long struggle and a vast epidemy that took a good percentage of the Aztec population. Besides, Spaniards had the help of allied tribes armies that fought for them and that were at least 20 times more numerous than the 500 spaniards of the expedition.
 
I have read that before and agree except I find conquering such an empire - even a warlike one -  with 500 men and 10000 more "allied" rebels are not what I normally expect to happen. Perhaps there is an better word than "easily".
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

With respect to the Incas, you should realize they were in a civil war when the Spaniards arrived, and Atahualpa was hated by at least half the population, because he killed Huascar and many of the legitimate Inca royalty.
 
Yes, historical matters look very simple if one acquire them reading Disneyland Confused[QUOTE] What book? Scrooge Mc Duck searching for mummies in  the Andes?
 [QUOTE=pinguin]
With respect to slower development, that's just an urban myth. What happens is that most people don't have a clue about American cultures of ancient times. Who knows about the conquest of Tupac Yupanqui? Who knows about the great engineering works of Tezahualcoyotl? (Saint patron of the Mexican engineers)
I have heard and read about the civilisations of ancient Mexico and Central America, and remarkable achievements, but not about a wider "web" of civilisations of the americas (trade, spread of ideas, direct and intensive contacts between different larger regions), and that was my main theme.  Tell me if You have other evidence, that say, Atztecs and  Mayas had a close relation to the andes, ambassadors of some kind at the court of the inca etcetera.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2009 at 21:05
[
Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

[
It would have been strange if they did not have anything at all in advance.
 
What's strange is the number of things that are not recognized. For instance, next time you go to the dentist, don't ask for the painkiller LOL
 
Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

[
 May I ask how You can be so sure they never starved? As far as I know the Incas did not have "writing", though they had the quipus. So we have the archaeological record, but without large holes? I am not so sure archaeologists are the persons who normally find evidence of starvation or epidemics. Probably written records tell much more, so it may be we just do not know about the hunger in the americas?
 
 
There are historical records from two hundred years before Inca times, which were compiled by the Spaniards after the conquest, based in the oral traditions. In any case, during the Inca Empire hunger didn't strike them as it happened in Europe at the same time. Don't forget they had potatoes, and they also stored dehidrated potatoes and meat.
Other American civilizations were strike by hunger, though, like the Anasazis in the U.S. and the Moches in Peru; but that isn't the case of Incas.
On the other hand, Aztecs produced surplus of foods in theirs hydroponic gardens, called chinampas.
 
Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

[
I have read that before and agree except I find conquering such an empire - even a warlike one -  with 500 men and 10000 more "allied" rebels are not what I normally expect to happen. Perhaps there is an better word than "easily".
 
 
There were lot of resistence to Spanish invasion. In fact in places like Chile, Mapuche natives defeated Spaniards and were never controlled by them. But the case of the Inca and Aztec empires were different because the following reason. People don't know both of those empires were multicultural and very fragmented. They were kept together by tiranic rulers and by force. It may sound strange but many natives saw Spaniards as the chance of liberation Confused...
 
 
Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

[
 What book? Scrooge Mc Duck searching for mummies in  the Andes?
 
 
I bet LOL
 
Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

 I have heard and read about the civilisations of ancient Mexico and Central America, and remarkable achievements, but not about a wider "web" of civilisations of the americas (trade, spread of ideas, direct and intensive contacts between different larger regions), and that was my main theme.  Tell me if You have other evidence, that say, Atztecs and  Mayas had a close relation to the andes, ambassadors of some kind at the court of the inca etcetera.
 
There were trade routes that spread from Mexico to Peru, but among several intermediate peoples. In the Pacific, the balsa rafts of the Manteno culture transported goods from Colombia to Central America. Shells from that region were transported all the way to the Peru, where they were used as trumpets in religious ceremonies.
The Tainos and also Mayans traded along the Caribbean. It is known Tainos moved regularly from venezuela to Cuba, and from there to Mexico and Florida! For instance, the Taino two tones drum is very similar to the ones used by both Mayans and Aztecs.
In short, there was contact, but only indirectly through intermediaries.


Edited by pinguin - 24-May-2009 at 21:08
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-May-2009 at 02:27
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

There are several civilizations that didn't appear along rivers. The Mayans made it in the jungle, extracting underground water; the Aztecs made it in a lake; the Incas worked in the mountains of the Andes.
I bet the theory of the rivers explain many cases in Eurasia, like Mesopotamia, China, Egypt, and even France, but I should bet that rivers is the only way to go.

Well, the Aztecs are a bit late, although Nahuatl culture in general did indeed get going around a lake rather than a river.

The Preclassic Phase of the Maya begins in the Mirador Basin, which has many rivers but it's mostly a swamp rather than a floodplain. They had a religious attachment to underground river sources, but many - most, probably - rivers do have an underground source or spring. If you're thinking of the cenotes, that's generally much later on (the postclassic sites).

The Andean cultures all got their starts in river valleys (including the Inca, who got going on the Urubamba River flowing along the Sacred Valley/Urubamba Valley as it heads into Lake Titicaca.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-May-2009 at 02:36
Well, the cultures of Titicaca weren't the Incas, but you are right on that. In the rest, I agree.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-May-2009 at 10:55

Right ... the Urubamba doesn't flow into Titicaca, my mistake. Titicaca is Tiahuanaco, 

The Urubamba was where Cuzco was, though, in a river valley.

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nile was the greatest river
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-May-2009 at 11:45
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Well, the "Old World" also lacked some New World's inventions. For instance platinum, rubber and the number zero were discovered in the Americas before the New World had a clue.
 
Some justification for that somewhat amazing claim would seem to be necessary. Zero the number has been recognised as long as people could count to 1, which is pretty far back in time.
 
The use of a positional system for expressing numbers as a power series was known to the Babylonians some 2,000 years BCE, and they had a convention for expressing an empty position (i.e. a representation of the digit zero as a space). Use of a specific symbol for zero in Mesopotamia goes back to at least 700 BCE.
 
Which American culture was using a zero convention earlier than that?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Narum Sin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Jun-2009 at 06:32
Great question. Thank you.

To give an answer I offer two concepts to the question.

I say, Land and Law made the ancient river civilizations.

The Land, as a concept to include the whole of the environment used for various food production or modes that would have been available to a people. I do not try to make the argument of which came first the seed pod or the crop.

People settled in geographic areas in order to make a 'living' -- be that a river flood plain, on uplands for orchards and vineyards, or the steppes for natural pastures. Dinnertime is when the Tribe meets for noshing. Just think of all the products that come from the Land.

Simply put Law is the basis of Authority. It is possible to have Authority without codification, but either by 'tradition' or by tacit agreement or by bronze tablets. Someone from tribe to metropolis is in charge.

Both the Land and the Law seem appropriate short replies to the question where I envision several ancient river civilizations as seen in the Indus, the Nile, the Tigris / Euphrates exemplars. Other 'water' based civilizations also spring to mind but that may be for later.

Kind regards,

Lawrence


Edited by Narum Sin - 13-Jun-2009 at 06:51
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Jun-2009 at 14:06
Originally posted by Narum Sin Narum Sin wrote:

Great question. Thank you.

To give an answer I offer two concepts to the question.

I say, Land and Law made the ancient river civilizations.

The Land, as a concept to include the whole of the environment used for various food production or modes that would have been available to a people. I do not try to make the argument of which came first the seed pod or the crop.

People settled in geographic areas in order to make a 'living' -- be that a river flood plain, on uplands for orchards and vineyards, or the steppes for natural pastures. Dinnertime is when the Tribe meets for noshing. Just think of all the products that come from the Land.

Simply put Law is the basis of Authority. It is possible to have Authority without codification, but either by 'tradition' or by tacit agreement or by bronze tablets. Someone from tribe to metropolis is in charge.

Both the Land and the Law seem appropriate short replies to the question where I envision several ancient river civilizations as seen in the Indus, the Nile, the Tigris / Euphrates exemplars. Other 'water' based civilizations also spring to mind but that may be for later.

Kind regards,

Lawrence
I am not so sure the river civilisations invented "law" out of nothing, but probably it became more "fixed" and the societies more hierarcial with river civilisations.
Neither can we be so sure "land" was not used in much the same way (for agrticultural production, there amy have been some sort of land "property" or "rights of use) exetera)even before those river civilisations. "Law" and "land" is not necessarily something directly and intimately connnected to rivers (or perhaps there may be some indirect connections?)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Narum Sin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Jun-2009 at 04:29
Land and Law

Righty, then.

Just a good-natured attempt to respond to your good question.

Good cheer,

Lawrence


Edited by Narum Sin - 27-Jun-2009 at 14:43
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